Crises? What Crises?

It’s a strange sort of news day when the jokey item is about VAT, but that’s what happened yesterday as the confusion and silliness about what constitutes hot food and what doesn’t rumbled on.

After George Osborne was embarrassed for being unable to tell the select committee when he last bought a Greggs pasty, other senior politicos were busily establishing their own fast food credentials.

Ed Miliband was interviewed outside a Greggs shop and David Cameron could recall exactly where he bought a more upmarket West Cornwall Pasty Company product.

Except he couldn’t. He said it was at their shop on Leeds station, but the company confirmed that it had closed in 2007. So red faces all round.

I’m surprised that Labour hasn’t called for a full independent inquiry into ‘Pastygate’. That is the usual response, providing retired judges with a second career even more lucrative than their first.

The one thought that occurred to me about this whole hot food business is how delighted football fans must be to pay 20% more for their half-time pie in order to fund the 5% tax break for the players on the pitch.

Elsewhere in government blunderland, Francis Maude told the public that they shouldn’t panic over the prospect of the fuel delivery drivers’ strike and the public took this as a clear sign that they should indeed panic.

The advice coming out of Westminster was bizarre to say the least. The three-point strategic plan seemed to be:

  1. Rush to a petrol station now and fill up your tank.
  2. Keep on topping up your tank at every opportunity.
  3. Store jerry cans of petrol in your garage.

It was no surprise then that there were queues at the pumps and petrol stations running dry, a situation that isn’t going to change if people follow suggestion two.

As for point three, apart from being dangerous, it is also illegal to store more than a couple of gallons this way and the government was pretending that it had said no such thing by the end of the day.

Below is an interview from Radio Five Live in which Peter Allen tries unsuccessfully to get energy minister, Charles Hendry, to mention the words ‘jerry can’. It’s a classic example of cringe-worthy political obfuscation.

[sc_embed_player_template1 fileurl=”″]

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

8 comments… Add yours
  • Jennyta 29th March 2012

    Just when you think politicians can’t get any more stupid and inept…!

  • Owl Wood 29th March 2012

    What shocks me about the whole affair is that someone in government actually used the word “jerrycan” or, more correctly, “Wehrmachtskanister”. How offensive can you get? Surely it’s a “portable storage facilitation unit adapted for liquids” and other storage devices are available, no endorsement or recommendation implied?

    After this carefully stage-managed faux-nonsense watch the price at the pumps rocket again in a couple of months. Baaaaaaaa! Baaaaaaaaaaa!

  • Thicko Pudding 29th March 2012

    Most car drivers don’t have garages! Maude’s vision of Britain – with jerry cans in the garage and no doubt vines in the greenhouse beyond the potting shed where the croquet equipment is kept – is out of synch with reality. He’s what Yorkshire folk would call “a reeght tosser”!

  • Mr Parrot 29th March 2012

    I agree with you all. When I think of this shower in charge, I can’t help thinking of Corporal Jones!

  • rhymeswithplague 29th March 2012

    I confess I have no idea what you’re talking about. Must be a local U.K. problem.
    “Greggs pasty” sounds like a small (or maybe not so small) article of wearing apparel worn by a dancer in a gay strip joint, not that I have any first-hand knowledge about such places.

  • Mr Parrot 29th March 2012

    A little local diffiulty it would be fair to say, although the humble pasty (a sort of pie) has become the hot issue of the day. Or cold if you don’t want to pay VAT (sales tax).

    The tax laws about what products are subject to VAT or not are rather mysterious. For example, a chocolate chip cookie is exempt because the chocolate is part of the mix before cooking, but a chocolate biscuit isn’t because the chocolate is put on afterwards and is considered an extra service.

    There was also a long legal case to decide whether a Jaffa Cake was indeed a cake (zero tax) or a biscuit (20% tax). After much deliberation, it was decided that a cake was confectionery that goes soft when left exposed to the air, while a biscuit would go hard.

    You can see why Britain gave its legal code to the world can’t you?

  • rhymeswithplague 30th March 2012

    Anything that goes hard would definitely require a pasty.

  • Mr Parrot 30th March 2012

    Of course, cake will go soft, especially if left out in the rain, as Richard Harris insightfully observed.


Your email will not be published on this site, but note that this and any other personal data you choose to share is stored here. Please see the Privacy Policy for more information.

Spelling error report

The following text will be sent to our editors: